Thursday 18 August 2022

Cabinet unveils new coronavirus strategy, more emphasis on normal life

The new government’s strategy for dealing with coronavirus is based on keeping society functioning as normally as possible, health minister Ernst Kuipers has told MPs in a briefing.

The policy has two equal goals, ensuring thriving social and economic continuity and keeping healthcare accessible for all, Kuipers said.

The new strategy is a change from that of the previous administration, which focused on specific targets, such as protecting people in vulnerable health and monitoring pressure on healthcare.

‘The policy will no longer depend on the pressure on the healthcare system but on the wider perspective, from both the social and socio-economic side, as well as on care services,’ Kuipers said.

‘We are moving away from eradicating risks to managing them, so we can live more normal lives.’

This approach, he said, requires sharp choices and a different weighing up of interests. ‘And here too, the measures must be proportional and limit constitutional rights as little as possible,’ he said.

This means that in the long term, government funding for companies hit by the pandemic will be phased out and coronavirus will be seen as a normal business risk.

‘Kuipers is saying that the economy will be one of the key elements,’ said BNR radio commentator Kees Dorresteijn. ‘That is extremely important to business because it means keeping everything open is a main aim.’

The coronavirus pass will remain a tool, but its use will be carefully considered. Testing will all also be important and the test centres will remain open, Kuipers said. The government is also looking into a new booster vaccination drive.

Press conference

Kuipers’ letter coincides with the news that prime minister Mark Rutte will not be at Tuesday’s press conference. Although he is attending a debate in the senate that evening, Rutte has also said that the current figures are not as bad as they have been.

‘If things were going really badly, it would be less easy to stay away,’ he said.

As yet it is not clear what measures will be relaxed next week but Menno de Jong, a member of the government’s Outbreak Management Team, told Amsterdam broadcaster AT5 that opening times may be extended and more people may be allowed to attend cultural events.

The OMT will meet on Friday to discuss the current situation and the cabinet will then meet ahead of the press conference to take the final decision.

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